Seven accused plead guilty in MI5 surveillance case
The case of seven men due to stand trial on a string of offences linked to dissident republican activity was dramatically halted on Thursday after they pleaded guilty.
The men – whose trial was scheduled to commence today (Monday) – were arrested in and MI5 sting operation at a house in Ardcarn Park, Newry in November 2014 where they had been under covert surveillance for months. Secret recordings of Continuity IRA meetings taking place in the house had been made by undercover intelligence officers.
At Belfast Crown Court before Mr Justice Colton on Wednesday, the seven defendants were re-arraigned on a catalogue of offences at the request of their defence lawyers.
Newry men John Sheehy (35), of Erskine Street, and Colin Patrick Winters (48), of Ardcarn Park; alongside Patrick Joseph ‘Mooch’ Blair (64), of Lissara Heights, Warrenpoint and Liam Hannaway (50) of White Rise, Dunmurry, Belfast all pleaded guilty to charges of belonging or professing to belong to a proscribed organisation.
They admitted providing weapons and explosives training, and conspiring to possess explosives, firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life. They further admitted conspiracy to possess explosives, firearms and ammunition with intent, along with preparing acts of terrorism.
Sheehy further pleaded guilty to attending a meeting at Ardcarn Park for the purposes of terrorist training while Blair, Hannaway and Winters admitted collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists. Winters also admitted to permitting his Ardcarn Park home to be used for the purposes of a terrorist meeting.
Seamus Morgan (64), of Barcroft Park, Newry; Terence Marks (49), of Parkhead Crescent, Newry and Kevin John Paul Heaney (46), of Blackstaff Mews, Springfield Road, Belfast, all pleaded guilty to belonging or professing to belong to a proscribed organisation. Marks also admitted a further charge of receiving training in the making or use of explosives for terrorism.
All of the offences took place on dates between August 11th 2014 and November 11th 2014.